5 takeaways from Arizona’s run to the Pac-12 males’s basketball event championship

LAS VEGAS — Unscathed in Las Vegas as soon as once more. 

No. 2 seed Arizona took down top-seeded UCLA 61-59 on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena to win its second straight Pac-12 Tournament championship. The Wildcats are 9-0 in Las Vegas underneath head coach Tommy Lloyd — 10-0 total going again to 2020. Lloyd is the one coach in Pac-12 historical past to have a 6-0 document within the convention event. 

Arizona has additionally prolonged its conference-best Pac-12 Tournament championship complete to seven, and the Wildcats did it by avenging earlier losses to UCLA, Arizona State and Stanford; a revenge tour, if you’ll.  

As the Wildcats shift their consideration to the NCAA Tournament, listed below are 5 takeaways from their championship weekend in Sin City: 

Arizona heart Oumar Ballo (11) shoots in opposition to UCLA ahead Kenneth Nwuba (14) in the course of the first half of an NCAA faculty basketball recreation for the championship of the lads’s Pac-12 Tournament, Saturday, March 11, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Chase Stevens)

1. Injury bug hits Wildcats at inopportune time

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Arizona heart Oumar Ballo will enter the NCAA Tournament with a damaged hand. Ballo, who was named to the All-Pac-12 Tournament staff after averaging 17 factors and eight rebounds in three video games, revealed that he broke his left hand in the course of the Wildcats’ semifinals win over Arizona State on Friday. 

“I dunked the ball and felt so much pain in my hand,” Ballo advised the Star in Arizona’s locker room on Saturday.

Ballo, the Pac-12 Most Improved Player, has been enjoying with pink tape on his proper hand for a thumb damage he suffered in early February. Ballo performed in opposition to UCLA on Saturday with black tape on his hand. Ballo advised the Star on Saturday he plans on enjoying within the NCAA Tournament.

“I’m good,” he mentioned. “Just a collision, but I’ll be fine for next week.”

In a since-deleted tweet, Ballo posted a screenshot of an X-ray that confirmed an damage on the base of the ring finger on his left hand, with the caption, “Broke a hand against ASU yesterday and got a ring for it tonight.”

Playing with each fingers taped up was a problem for Ballo, particularly in opposition to the Bruins. 

“Man, it’s hard. Playing against UCLA, they swipe every time we touch the ball,” Ballo mentioned. “We just had to keep it high and avoid contact.” 

Fellow Arizona starter in guard Kerr Kriisa enters March Madness with a proper shoulder damage he suffered in Thursday’s win over Stanford. 

“Everybody’s banged up this time of year,” Lloyd mentioned. “It’s the time of year it is. It’s really, really, really hard to play three games in three days. And I think all us coaches, if we had our druthers, we would get together and find a way to lighten the load on our players in these tournaments. In college basketball at the highest level, it’s hard to have great depth anymore because there’s so much parity. To ask six or seven guys or eight guys, whatever it is, to go play high-level basketball three straight nights is a lot, and so I think you’re going to see more and more of these teams across the country getting guys banged up. 

“So hopefully there’s a way we can kind of all rally around and get together and figure out a way to kind of lessen the impact on the players so teams can be closer to a 100% come tournament time.”

Arizona ahead Azuolas Tubelis (10) is defended by UCLA guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. in the course of the second half of an NCAA faculty basketball recreation for the championship of the lads’s Pac-12 Tournament, Saturday, March 11, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Chase Stevens)

2. One staff’s loss is Arizona’s achieve

The Wildcats weren’t the one staff within the Pac-12 Tournament coping with accidents. 

UCLA ahead and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Jaylen Clark is out for the season with a torn achilles, and Bruins heart and Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Adem Bona suffered a shoulder damage in Friday’s win over Oregon. Bona, who was questionable for Saturday, was held out and donned a grey UCLA jumpsuit, and stored his left hand tucked into the entrance pocket of his hoodie in the course of the recreation.

UCLA forwards Mac Etienne and Kenneth Nwuba every fouled out and mixed for 3 factors and 10 rebounds in 33 minutes, which left Bruins ahead and Pac-12 Player of the Year Jaime Jaquez Jr., who’s 6-7, defending 7-foot Ballo within the closing minutes. 

“We compete. It’s five on five,” mentioned UCLA head coach Mick Cronin. “We don’t accept that somebody was out so you’re supposed to lose. We don’t roll like that.”

UCLA guard Tyger Campbell (10) passes the ball as Arizona guard Pelle Larsson (3) and Arizona ahead Azuolas Tubelis (10) defend in the course of the first half of an NCAA faculty basketball recreation within the championship of the Pac-12 event, Saturday, March 11, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Chase Stevens)

In the times main into the Pac-12 Tournament, Lloyd was requested if he would think about extending Arizona’s bench past Pelle Larsson and 17-year-old level guard Kylan Boswell. Lloyd’s response: “We’re going to go game-to-game. We’ll see. … I think we have some guys ready to help if needed.” 

Arizona performed its regular seven-man rotation within the first two video games of the Pac-12 Tournament, however deployed wing Adama Bal, who hit two 3-pointers within the Pac-12 Tournament closing in opposition to the Bruins final season, and freshman ahead Henri Veesaar within the first half; collectively, they performed 5 minutes and added two rebounds. 

Lloyd mentioned the choice to put in Bal and Veesaar was due to “foul issues and three games in three days,” and the tightened rotation provides “a little more certainty in (Boswell and Larsson’s) roles.” 

“I love Adama and Henri and they’re going to be great players at Arizona, but we’re just unfortunately not able to use ’em quite enough now,” Lloyd mentioned. 

“But I love our seven guys. I feel really good about our seven guys, about what we can do on the offensive end, what we can do at the defensive end, the versatility we can play with, the different lineups we can play with. I think it’s a pretty impressive seven dudes.”

Arizona guard Courtney Ramey, heart, celebrates alongside teammates after their win over UCLA in an NCAA faculty basketball recreation for the championship of the lads’s Pac-12 Tournament, Saturday, March 11, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Chase Stevens)

4. Wildcats ‘built to play a lot of styles’

In a approach, the Pac-12 Tournament was a microcosm of how the Wildcats have gained a number of video games this season. On Thursday, Arizona scored 95 factors on 64% taking pictures in a win over Stanford, the third-most factors scored by this system in a Pac-12 Tournament recreation. Then on Saturday, Arizona beat the Bruins in a recreation akin to the Wildcats’ 58-52 “rock struggle” win over UCLA. 

The Wildcats did not rating their first factors till the 16:27 mark within the first half, when Tubelis made two free-throws. Arizona did not make its first discipline objective till there have been 14:56 left within the first half. Both groups began the competition taking pictures a mixed 1-for-13 from the sphere; the Wildcats and Bruins additionally shot 37% on Saturday. Although Arizona guard Courtney Ramey was 1-for-5 from 3-point vary, the one make was probably the most essential discipline objective of the sport for the Wildcats: a go-ahead 3 to place the UA forward 60-58. 

I stored telling myself the following shot was getting in,” Ramey mentioned. “(Tubelis) discovered me and my job was to make a play. So I used to be grateful for the shot to go in.”

Lloyd mentioned “it’s hard to get in an up-and-down game with UCLA, because they’re perfectly comfortable walking the ball up the floor and dictating the tempo.”

“And then they’re just so good defensively it’s hard to score on ’em quick,” Lloyd said.

Lloyd added Arizona is “built to play a lot of styles,” a trait that bodes well for Arizona heading into the NCAA Tournament. 

“I think it says that we have a group that’s built to play in this tournament we’re about to start in,” Lloyd said. “There’s no guarantees and you can’t make any assumptions, but I like our ability to win game to game.”

Arizona ahead Azuolas Tubelis holds up a bit of the web after the staff’s win over UCLA in an NCAA faculty basketball recreation for the championship of the lads’s Pac-12 Tournament on Saturday, March 11, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Chase Stevens)

5. Learning from the final go-around in March

It’s formally win or go dwelling for Arizona. 

If there’s something the Wildcats discovered from their Sweet 16 loss to Houston in Lloyd’s first season on the helm final yr, it is “rebounding and physicality.” The Wildcats had been out-rebounded and out-scored within the paint by the Cougars. Tubelis had solely two factors and shot 0-for-8 from the sphere to associate with 4 turnovers and 5 rebounds. 

“That recreation was so bodily, man. It was exhausting, and we discovered,” Ballo mentioned. “Me personally, I discovered so much from that. I must be prepared for that sort of recreation; rebound the ball and match their physicality and simply hold the power up.”

Added Ballo: “We had been there final yr, so we all know the way it feels. We know the sensation of successful and dropping. We must do the whole lot we probably can to remain successful.” 

“It’s an additional particular honor for me,” Arizona head males’s basketball coach Tommy Lloyd mentioned passing North Carolina’s Bill Guthridge for many wins (59) by a head coach in his first two seasons on the helm. Lloyd spoke to reporters March 9, 2023 after Arizona’s 95-84 win over Stanford within the quarterfinals of the 2023 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. (Via Pac-12)

Arizona males’s basketball coach Tommy Lloyd mentioned he is not involved with Arizona’s seeding within the NCAA Tournament or location of first and second rounds: “If you’re worried about that stuff after a 31-game regular season, then you’re worried about the wrong things.” Lloyd spoke to native media March 7, 2023 at McKale heart, forward of the 2023 Pac-12 males’s basketball event. Video by Justin Spears/Arizona Daily Star

Contact sports activities producer Justin Spears at jspears@tucson.com. On Twitter: @JustinESports

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